BRi USA NEWS - Peak Season May Continue into 2021, Global Supply Chain Issues Remain


Dear all Valued Customers


The numbers are in and U.S. import volumes from Asia rose another 11 percent in October from the previous month. With an almost 24 percent increase during the same timeframe in 2019, many carriers believe October will be the pinnacle for this unexpected peak season. However, volumes remain strong and it looks like the import surge will continue into 2021.


Beneficial cargo owners (BCOs), Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOs) and carriers are all reporting that booking levels and forecasts continue to be elevated until February 12, when factories will close for the Lunar New Year holidays. After that, volumes are expected to drop dramatically for a few weeks.


While continued strong volumes is positive news for the carriers, shippers are cautioned that this also means global supply chain issues will persist for several more months. The issues come in several forms including equipment shortages, tight space on vessels leaving Asia and congestion at North America ports, not to mention continued elevated rates.


Global supply chain issues remain


With persistent container shortages in Asia, many shippers wonder how cargo will keep moving.


Carriers appear to even be competing with themselves internally for containers – those bound for North America and those for European trade routes. As many have exhausted their leasing options, they are taking actions to do what they can to reposition containers in Asia, including dropping inland locations to below stock levels and only allocating equipment for contracted shippers.  


Southeast Asia is also experiencing severe congestion; routings which include trans shipments are subject to additional delays. The major ports in Vietnam are currently experiencing shortages of all equipment sizes and truckers are attempting pickups at multiple depots priors to successfully obtaining containers. It is reported that carriers are only releasing 40’ and 40’ HC containers four days prior to CY cut-off and three days prior for 20’ and 40’ reefers. Some carriers are not accepting bookings due to space, particularly for November departures.


Congestion at the West Coast ports also remain a major factor including terminal and warehouse congestion and chassis shortages. The East Coast port in New Jersey also began experiencing port-wide chassis shortages for forty-foot containers. While pool and equipment operators are working overtime to repair chassis, the shortages are still present currently.


Carriers implementing Emergency Intermodal Surcharges


While port stakeholders continue to work through the severe congestion at the West Coast ports, many carriers are implementing Emergency Intermodal Surcharges (EIS) for cargo flowing from Asia through Los Angeles and Long Beach to major inland ramps including (Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, etc.). The surcharge, levied when the carrier is providing a door move or where the connection from a Southern California marine terminal to a rail terminal must be facilitated via truck, is ranging from $250 - $350, depending on the carrier.


Note that cargo moving via a shipper's trucker or BRi USA trucker may exempt you from this surcharge.


Example carrier announcements are MSC, CMA CGM and Zim, but not inclusive of all carriers levying the charge.  


Major North American Ports Status Update


Below is a general overview of the operations BRi USA has been able to gather for most major ports. This list will be updated as information is made available.


United States


Port of Seattle and Tacoma – A new agriculture transload terminal opens today in Seattle. The new terminal will transfer agricultural products from rail cars to marine containers for export to overseas customers. All terminals at the ports are open and operational this week.


Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach – Los Angeles and Long Beach are both experiencing extended port stays for vessels ranging from 1-3 days due to congestion. Both ports' yard utilization is at 50-75%. Trucking capacity, appointment and chassis availability continues to be very tight. Truck traffic in/out of the ports also continues to be extremely congested. All terminals are open for normal operations this week, select terminals are offering additional gates.


Port of Oakland – The Port of Oakland continues to handle a high volume of incoming vessels due to the import surge.  All terminals are open for normal operations this week.


Port of Houston – The Port of Houston is currently widening access roads to its Bayport facility. The construction will add an additional inbound and outbound lane, and improve terminal efficiency. All terminals are open for normal operations this week.


Port of New York/New Jersey – The railroads are sending more cars to the Ports of NY/NJ this week amid mounting intermodal delays due to the current import surge. Chassis shortages have also been reported at NJ this week for 40' containers. The ports of NY/NJ are open this week for normal operations and gate hours.


Port of Virginia - The Port of Virginia took delivery of the final two STS cranes that are part of Norfolk International Terminal's expansion project. Port administrative offices, breakbulk and out-of-gauge operations are closed Wednesday, November 11, for the Veteran's Day holiday, but container terminal and operations remain open. All terminals are open and operational this week.


North Carolina Ports - The North Carolina Ports continue to develop their reefer capabilities with a planned expansion of up to 1,000 plugs soon, doubling the Port of Wilmington's throughput capacity to more than one million TEU. All terminals are open and operational this week.


South Carolina Ports - South Carolina Ports’ October volumes show an ongoing recovery and strength in containers, handling 216,196 TEUs during the month. SC Port breakbulk operations are closed on Wednesday, November 11, for the Veteran's Day Holiday. All container and other operations remain open. SC Ports in Charleston, Greer and Dillon are operating normally for gates and vessels at this time.


Port of Georgia - The Port of Georgia continues to maintain fluid operations amid the import surge, with Savannah averaging 13,000 trucks per day and dwell times less than 24 hours. The Georgia Port Authority Executive Director recently held a "State of the Port" telecast, you may view the recording here. All terminals are open and operational this week.




Port of Montreal - The Port of Montreal continues planning for the new terminal, Contrecoeur. When fully up and running, the terminal will make it possible to handle 1.15 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per year. Construction is expected to start in early 2021. All terminals are open and operational this week


Port of Prince Rupert - On-dock rail times continue to be elevated. Average rail dwell times are at 5.2 days. Rail car equipment remains consistent, and yard utilization very high. All terminals are open and operational this week.


Port of Vancouver - On-dock rail times continue to be elevated.


Average rail dwell times are at 6.8 days. Dwell time was impacted recently due to two separate work stoppages, resulting in the loss of two shifts. Rail car equipment is consistent, and yard utilization remains very high. All terminals are open and operational this week.


Tropical Storm Eta Eyeing Second Florida Landfall, West Coast Port Operations Restricted


Tropical Storm Eta’s path has been unpredictable, this time with its eyes on the western coast of Florida.


Vessel movement and some ship-to-shore operations remain restricted at the Florida ports of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Manatee and Fort Myers.


BRi ERP and Order Management Program


To ensure you maintain visibility to your shipments as they move through the supply chain, please take advantage of BRi PATHWAY.


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As a valued customer, we hope that you will continue to trust us to source the best options for your supply chain needs now and into the future. Should you have any questions regarding USA News, please contact your Customer Solutions Representative. 


Keeping you updated,

BRi Customer Solutions Team

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